As they look to cut payroll for the 2020 season, the Athletics are discussing trades of reliever Blake Treinen, infielder Jurickson Profar, and catcher Josh Phegley, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, adding that all three players are non-tender candidates.
For the Mets, who already have a potentially overcrowded infield and a starting catcher, the only player of interest here should be Treinen.
The 31-year-old Treinen was one of the best relievers in baseball in 2018 and one of the worst in 2019, and is projected to earn $7.8 million via arbitration in 2020 -- a potentially steep price for any interested team to pay in addition to giving literally anything up via trade.
It would be unwise for the Mets to give up anything for Treinen via trade and take on the nearly $8 million he's slated to earn via arbitration. But in the event the A's non-tender Treinen (the deadline is Dec. 2), he would be eligible to sign with any team. At that point, the Mets should be interested.
Treinen was a very solid reliever from his debut in 2014 until 2017, posting a 3.21 ERA (3.43 FIP) and 1.34 WHIP while striking out 8.0 batters per 9 in 220 appearances.
In 2018, Treinen was flat out dominant, with a 0.78 ERA (1.82 FIP) and 0.83 WHIP while striking out a career-best 11.2 batters per 9 and walking just 2.4 batters per 9.
Then came 2019.
Everything fell apart for Treinen as his home run rate spiked from 0.22 per 9 to 1.38 per 9 after his home run rate had never been above 0.71 per 9 in any season of his career. His ERA was a career-worst 4.91 (his FIP was 5.14) and his WHIP was a career-worst 1.61 as he walked a career-worst 5.7 per 9. Treinen's season then ended in September due to a stress reaction in his back.
A look at the advanced numbers show that Treinen's ground ball rate dropped significantly (to 42.8 percent, the lowest of his career) as his fly ball rate rose significantly (to 33.1 percent, the highest of his career). He also allowed the highest hard contact rate of his career. Meanwhile, the rate of hitters barreling up his pitches was almost four times higher than it was in 2018.
While Treinen's average velocity in 2019 was a tick below what it was in 2018, it wasn't nearly the kind of drop that should have led to the disaster that his season was. That means what befell him was likely complex, including serious control issues.
Some team will take a chance on Treinen, whether it's via trade or after he's potentially non-tendered. And the Mets should have interest if he becomes a free agent. But if they land him, he can't be looked at as any kind of guarantee -- not with the team already relying on bouncebacks from Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia.